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Carbon monoxide (CO) can cause mass intoxication, but no standard triage algorithm specifically addresses CO poisoning. The roles of some recent diagnostic tools in triage as well as treatment with hyperbaric oxygen are controversial. We describe a mass casualty case of CO poisoning involving 77 patients, with a focus on the triage and treatment options decided on-site. The reasons for choosing these options are reviewed, and the pitfalls that occurred and the lessons learned from this major incident are described. We discuss the potential to improve the management of such an event and strategies to accomplish this, including simplifying triage and administering oxygen to all exposed persons for 6 h. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018; 12: 373–378)
Introduction: Prehospital transport of patients to an alternative destination (diversion) has been proposed as part of a solution to overcrowding in emergency departments (ED). We evaluated compliance and safety of an EMS bypass protocol allowing paramedics to transport intoxicated patients directly to an alternate facility [Withdrawal Management Services (WMS)], bypassing the ED. Patients were eligible for diversion if they were ≥18 years old, classified as CTAS level III-IV, scored <4 on the Prehospital Early Warning (PHEW) score, and did not have any vital sign parameters in a danger zone (as per PHEW score criteria). Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted on intoxicated patients presenting to Sudbury EMS. Data was abstracted from EMS reports, hospital medical records, and discharge forms from WMS. Protocol compliance was measured using missed protocol opportunities (patients eligible for diversion but taken directly to the ED) and protocol noncompliance rates; protocol safety was measured using protocol failure (presentation to ED within 48 hours of appropriate diversion) and patient morbidity rates (hospital admission within 48 hours of diversion). Data was analysed qualitatively and quantitatively using proportions. Results: EMS responded to 681 calls for intoxication. Of the 568 taken directly to the ED, 65 met diversion criteria; these were missed protocol opportunities (11%). 113 patients were diverted. There was protocol noncompliance in 41 cases (36%), but 35 were due to incomplete recording of vital signs. There were direct protocol violations in only 6 cases (5%). There was protocol failure in 16 cases (22%), and patient morbidity in 1 case (1%). No patients died within 48 hours of diversion. Conclusion: EMS providers were fairly compliant with the protocol when transporting patients directly to the ED. There was some protocol non-compliance with patients diverted to WMS, though this is largely attributed to incomplete recording of vital signs; direct protocol violations were low. The protocol provides high levels of safety for patients diverted to WMS. Broader implementation of the protocol could reduce the volume of intoxicated patients seen in the ED, and improve quality of care received by this population.
Introduction: Excessive consumption of alcohol is associated with harm and responsible for up to 30% of emergency department (ED) visits. ED visits and length of stay (LOS) related to alcohol intoxication have increased over the last decade. The objective of this study was to compare the ED LOS of alcohol intoxicated and non-alcohol intoxicated patients presenting to the ED with acute head injury. Methods: This was a nested cohort analysis of patients screened for enrollment in a randomized controlled trial assessing minor traumatic brain injury (MTBI) discharge instructions in the ED of an academic tertiary care hospital (annual census 65,000). Patients aged 18 to 64 years presenting to the ED with a Canadian Emergency Department Information System (CEDIS) chief complaint of a head injury or suspected concussion occurring within 24 hours were eligible for study inclusion. Patients were identified as acutely intoxicated by their treating clinical providers. ED LOS for patients acutely intoxicated and those not intoxicated was compared using a Mann-Whitney U test using the Hodges-Lehmann method. Proportional differences were assessed using chi-square statistics. Results: A total of 164 patients were included in the analysis, 46 (28.0%) intoxicated and 118 (72.0%) not intoxicated. Median (IQR) ED LOS was 2.9 (1.5, 6.6) hours for intoxicated and 1.8 (1.3, 2.9) hours for non-intoxicated patients (Δ1.1 hours; 95% CI: 0.4, 1.8). Arrival by ambulance was higher in the intoxicated (73.9%) compared to the non-intoxicated (29.7%) group (Δ44.3%; 95% CI: 27.6, 57.1). Patients were more likely to have experienced assault in the intoxicated (34.8%) compared to the non-intoxicated (6.8%) group (Δ28.0%; 95% CI: 14.5, 42.8). There no difference in the proportion of patients who arrived after daytime hours, had a brain computed tomography, received analgesia in the ED, had another traumatic injury or had a history of psychiatric illness. Conclusion: One third of patients screened for a randomized controlled trial for MTBI were deemed ineligible for study inclusion due to acute alcohol intoxication. Alcohol intoxication was associated with prolonged ED LOS. Future studies specifically aimed at identifying factors that impact care on this frequent ED patient population are needed.
Lithium intoxication is known to induce cognitive deficits along with motor and behavioral changes, even in association with normal serum levels. However, cases with comprehensive neuropsychological assessment of the deficits are rare. In our patient, we initially found severe cognitive deficits, including apraxia and visuo-constructive problems, and temporo-parietal FDG–PET hypometabolism. Neuropsychological and imaging findings were highly suggestive of Alzheimer's disease. However, lithium intoxication was suspected to account for these findings because of a Parkinson's syndrome, despite serum levels being in the upper therapeutic range. This was confirmed as cessation of lithium medication not only let the Parkinson's syndrome disappear, but also lead to dramatic improvements with respect to cognition.
Introduction: This study provides an estimate of the number of EMS calls related to police use of force events that involve struggling, intoxicated and/or emotionally distressed patients. We hypothesized there would be under-reporting of EMS risk by paramedic agencies due to lack of standardized reporting of police events by EMS services and lack of a common linked case number between prehospital agencies in Canada. Methods: Data were collected during a multi-site, prospective, consecutive cohort study of police use of force in 4 Canadian cities using standardized data forms. Use of force was defined a priori and the application of handcuffs was not considered a force modality. Inclusion criteria: all subjects ≥ 18 years of age involved in a use of force police-public encounter. We defined risk to EMS as the presence of police- and/or paramedic- assessments of violent or struggling subjects on the scene. Three separate data forms (police-report of use of force, EMS encounter, and Emergency Department (ED) visit) were linked in the study by unique ID. When police-reported EMS was activated, investigators hand searched the EMS service reports at the relevant agencies for matching call sheets. Results: From Jan 2010 to Dec 2012, we studied 3310 consecutive public-police interactions involving use of force above simple joint lock application. Subjects were male (86%) with a mean age of 33 yrs; 85% were assessed by police as emotionally disturbed, intoxicated with drugs and/or alcohol or a combination of those. 45% were violent at the scene. Police-reported EMS attendance in 24% (809/3310) of use of force events, of which only 43% (349/809) of EMS run sheets were available. In events with violent subjects, EMS transported 51% to ED compared to 35% by police transport (chi=79.7, p=0.00). Conclusion: We identified periods of professional and physical risk to paramedics attending police use of force events and found that risk significantly underrepresented in EMS data. Paramedical training would benefit from policy and procedures for response to police calls and the violent patient, the majority of whom are struggling. A common linked case number in prehospital care would enable more specific quantification of the risk for EMS providers involved in police events.
A young woman presented with cardiac arrest following ingestion of yew tree leaves of the Taxus baccata species. The toxin in yew tree leaves has negative inotropic and dromotropic effects. The patient had a cardiac rhythm that alternated between pulseless electrical activity with a prolonged QRS interval and ventricular fibrillation. When standard resuscitation therapy including digoxin immune Fab was ineffective, a combination of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and hypothermia was initiated. The total duration of low flow/no flow was 82 minutes prior to the initiation of ECMO. After 36 hours of ECMO (including 12 hours of electrical asystole), the patient’s electrocardiogram had normalized and the left ventricular ejection fraction was 50%. At this time, dobutamine and the ECMO were stopped. The patient had a full neurologic recovery and was discharged from the intensive care unit after 5 days and from the hospital 1 week later.
Substance use is highly prevalent among patients presenting to emergency departments (EDs). Substance use complicates differential diagnosis of the ED patient, as substance use can mimic a variety of psychiatric syndromes. Chronic drug and/or alcohol use significantly increases the likelihood that a person will use an ED for medical treatment. The drugs of abuse and intoxication include alcohol, opiates, sedative hypnotics, stimulants, hallucinogens and dissociative agents, inhalants, and cannabinoids. Drug intoxication is commonly involved in ED visits, and patients may present with a variety of medical and psychiatric complaints. Drug intoxication complicates clinical presentation and can lead to prolonged ED length-of-stay, deployment of resources, including the use of restraints in severe intoxication syndromes, and creates a challenge for disposition and treatment.
The aim of the study was to investigate the state of parameters characterising different sites of metabolism and the degree of endogenous intoxication in first-episode drug-naïve schizophrenic [first episode of schizophrenia (FES)] patients. It is hypothesised that the FES is the initial step in the development of pathologically disturbed biochemical status that is characteristic of chronic schizophrenia.
Platelet monoamine oxidase (MAO) and serum semicarbazide-sensitive amine oxidase (SSAO) activities, serum concentrations of middle-mass endotoxic molecules (MMEM) and malondialdehyde and parameters of the serum albumin functional state were measured in 26 FES patients and 15 age-matched healthy controls.
Severity of disorder before the treatment was 75.5 ± 2.2, according to Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale score. FES patients were characterised by significant increase in MAO activity (99%) and MMEM concentration (124%) and significant decrease in SSAO activity (26%) as compared with controls. Changes of all other parameters were insignificant. Regression analysis has showed a significant relationship of three parameters – MAO, SSAO and MMEM, with values of PANNS score. Two methods of extraction of factor analysis revealed that MAO and SSAO belonged to Factor 1, whereas MMEM and albumin functional parameters belonged to Factor 2.
Comparing our earlier data on chronic schizophrenic patients with present data, we hypothesise that FES patients are at the stage that leads to a stable, pathological state of metabolism.
Narghile (water pipe, hookah, shisha, goza, hubble bubble, argeela) is a traditional method of tobacco use. In recent years, its use has increased worldwide, especially among young people. Narghile smoking, compared to cigarette smoking, can result in more smoke exposure and greater levels of carbon monoxide (CO). We present an acutely confused adolescent patient who had CO poisoning after narghile tobacco smoking. She presented with syncope and a carboxyhemoglobin level of 24% and was treated with hyperbaric oxygen. Five additional cases of CO poisoning after narghile smoking were identified during a literature search, with carboxyhemoglobin levels of 20 to 30%. Each patient was treated with oxygen supplementation and did well clinically. In light of the increasing popularity of narghile smoking, young patients presenting with unexplained confusion or nonspecific neurologic symptoms should be asked specifically about this exposure, followed by carboxyhemoglobin measurement.
The classical doctrine of mass toxicological events provides general guidelines for the management of a wide range of “chemical” events. The guidelines include provisions for the: (1) protection of medical staff with personal protective equipment; (2) simple triage of casualties; (3) airway pro-tection and early intubation; (4) undressing and decontamination at the hos-pital gates; and (5) medical treatment with antidotes, as necessary. A number of toxicological incidents in Israel during the summer of 2005 involved chlo-rine exposure in swimming pools. In the largest event, 40 children were affected. This study analyzes its medical management, in view of the Israeli Guidelines for Mass Toxicological Events.
Data were collected from debriefings by the Israeli Home Front Command, emergency medical services (EMS), participating hospitals, and hospital chart reviews. The timetable of the event, the number and severity of casualties evacuated to each hospital, and the major medical and logistical problems encountered were analyzed according to the recently described methodology of Disastrous Incident Systematic Analysis Through-Components, Interactions, Results (DISAST-CIR).
The first ambulance arrived on-scene seven minutes after the first call. Emergency medical services personnel provided supplemental oxygen to the vic-tims at the scene and en route when required. Forty casualties were evacuated to four nearby hospitals. Emergency medical services classified 26 patients as mild-ly injured, 13 as mild-moderate, and one as moderate, suffering from pulmonary edema. Most children received bronchodilators and steroids in the emergency room; 20 were hospitalized. All were treated in pediatric emergency rooms. None of the hospitals deployed their decontamination sites.
Event management differed from the standard Israeli toxico-logical doctrine. It involved EMS triage of casualties to a number of medical centers, treatment in pediatric emergency departments, lack of use of protec-tive gear, and omission of decontamination prior to emergency department entrance. Guidelines for mass toxicological events must be tailored to unique scenarios, such as chlorine intoxications at swimming pools, and for specific patient populations, such as children. All adult emergency departments always should be prepared and equipped for taking care of pediatric patients.
A fire developed in a facility being used as a discotheque that resulted in death for 63 young people. The rescue operations, ambulance responses, medical care provided at the scene, hospital operations, and psychosocial responses are described. Bodies blocked the exit and many survivors had to evacuate by leaping from windows. A total of 16 ambulances were used. Survivors and people not directly involved in the incident created disturbances and some even attacked responders. Many of those who escaped early suffered mild inhalation injuries and those who escaped later, sustained more severe inhalation injuries. High levels of both carbon-monoxide and cyanide were detected at autopsy. A total of 213 persons were transported to hospitals, 85 by ambulance. Most who died at the scene had severe burn injuries, were unconscious, or suffered from fire-gas injuries. A total of 150 victims were admitted to a hospital, of which 74 (49.3%) required intensive care. Only one of the four hospitals actuated a disaster alert. Psychosocial support was complicated due the multicultural characteristics of those involved. Support to the survivors and relatives of the victims was provided by representatives of various religious organization, non-profit organizations, and by the government of Gothenburg. Many recommendations are provided to better prepare for future events.
Alcohol is a frequent contributing factor to motor vehicle collision injuries. Our objective was to determine the proportion of intoxicated drivers hospitalized following motor vehicle crashes who were subsequently convicted of an impaired driving criminal code offence.
We reviewed British Columbia Trauma Registry records from Jan. 1, 1992, to Mar. 31, 2000, and identified drivers of motor vehicles who were hospitalized for treatment of crash-related injuries. Patient identifiers were then used to link with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s (ICBC) contraventions database and the ICBC Traffic Accident System collisions database.
Of 6067 patients identified in the Trauma Registry, 4042 had not been administered a blood ethanol test, 209 had no driver’s licence match in the relevant databases and 119 died, leaving 1697 eligible patients. Mean age was 34 years, and 79.6% were male. The average Injury Severity Score was 20, the average hospital stay was 14 days and, among ethanol-positive patients, the mean ethanol level was 34.0 mmol/L (156.4 mg/dL). In patients with levels >17.3 mmol/L, the police had listed ethanol as a contributing factor in 70.6% of cases. Despite this, only 11.0% were convicted of impaired driving and 8.4% of another criminal offence; 10.7% received a 24-hour roadside prohibition, 3.9% received a 90-day administrative driving prohibition and 25.0% were convicted of a contravention of the Motor Vehicle Act. Forty-one percent were not convicted of any offence at all.
Intoxicated drivers in British Columbia requiring hospitalization as a result of alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes are seldom convicted of impaired driving or other criminal code offences.
Vitamin D is metabolised by a hepatic 25-hydroxylase into 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) and by a renal 1α-hydroxylase into the vitamin D hormone calcitriol. Calcitriol receptors are present in more than thirty different tissues. Apart from the kidney, several tissues also possess the enzyme 1α-hydroxylase, which is able to use circulating 25(OH)D as a substrate. Serum levels of 25(OH)D are the best indicator to assess vitamin D deficiency, insufficiency, hypovitaminosis, adequacy, and toxicity. European children and young adults often have circulating 25(OH)D levels in the insufficiency range during wintertime. Elderly subjects have mean 25(OH)D levels in the insufficiency range throughout the year. In institutionalized subjects 25(OH)D levels are often in the deficiency range. There is now general agreement that a low vitamin D status is involved in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis. Moreover, vitamin D insufficiency can lead to a disturbed muscle function. Epidemiological data also indicate a low vitamin D status in tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel diseases, hypertension, and specific types of cancer. Some intervention trials have demonstrated that supplementation with vitamin D or its metabolites is able: (i) to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients; (ii) to improve blood glucose levels in diabetics; (iii) to improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The oral dose necessary to achieve adequate serum 25(OH)D levels is probably much higher than the current recommendations of 5–15 μg/d.
Atenolol, a selective β1-adrenergic antagonist, is commonly used to treat hypertension, ischemic heart disease and cardiac dysrhythmias. Few cases of severe atenolol intoxication have been described, and only one of these reports discussed the use of calcium chloride as a treatment. We present a case of atenolol overdose associated with shock and first-degree heart block, in which administration of calcium chloride led to dramatic improvement after failure of conventional treatment. In addition, we discuss the pharmacokinetics, toxicology and management of β-blocker overdose, focusing on the possible role of calcium chloride.